Japan Killed 122 Pregnant Whales

Credit: Sea Shepherd
Credit: Sea Shepherd

Published May 28, 2018 10:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

Humane Society International has expressed outrage that 122 pregnant female whales were killed this year in the Southern Ocean as part of Japan's whaling program NEWREP-A. The information was contained in newly published meeting papers from the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee meeting held in Slovenia in May.

The results show that of the 333 Antarctic minke whales killed this year, 181 were females. 122 or 67 percent of these females were pregnant and 53 or 29 percent were immature animals.

"The killing of 122 pregnant whales is a shocking statistic and sad indictment on the cruelty of Japan's whale hunt. It is further demonstration, if needed, of the truly gruesome and unnecessary nature of whaling operations, especially when non-lethal surveys have been shown to be sufficient for scientific needs,” said Alexia Wellbelove, Senior Program Manager at Humane Society International.

Despite condemnation by the international community and the International Court of Justice, which ruled in 2014 that Japan's JARPA II Antarctic whaling program was illegal and must stop, Japan re-badged its whaling program and sent its whaling fleet to the Southern Ocean for its annual whale hunt again in 2015. Japan withdrew its recognition of the International Court of Justice as an arbiter of disputes over whales.

Japan's whaling fleet has returned home from the Southern Ocean in March this year after a successful 143-day investigation “without being interfered with by the anti-whaling group” - a reference to Sea Shepherd. 

Shepherd has opposed Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary every year from 2005 to 2017 except for the 2014/2015 season when the whalers did not return to Antarctic waters. Sea Shepherd sent two ships down to the Southern Ocean last year (2016/2017), and although they got close, they could not close in because of advanced military satellite technology that allowed the whalers to see Sea Shepherd's movements in real time.

The organization did not return for the 2017/2018 whaling operation “because it would be like taking a slingshot to a gunfight in pursuit of whalers who can see us but we can’t see them - in other words, a fruitless waste of time and resources,” said founder Paul Watson.

In November last year, Sea Shepherd released Australian Government footage exposing details of Japanese whaling methods, obtained under Freedom of Information request. The footage shows whales dying slowly and in pain, sometimes drowning in their own blood.

"The continued killing of any whales is abhorrent to modern society, but these new figures make it even more shocking. We look forward to Australia and other pro-conservation countries sending the strongest possible message to Japan that it should stop its lethal whaling programs,” saidWellbelove.

The next meeting of the International Whaling Commission is in September in Brazil.